FAQ

Learn about program requirements, meet our faculty and students, or apply now.

What is the total number of credits required for the Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Food Systems?
A total of six courses are required for the certificate with an 18-credit minimum.

What is the shortest amount of time in which the program can be completed?
This depends a lot on your interest in classes, whether or not you do an internship or indepdentdent study, and the timing/offering of classes and your own schedule. At minimum- likely one year.

Who can enroll for the food systems certificate program? 
Any student with a completed undergraduate degree may apply for the sustainable food systems certificate program. The certificate program can be added on to another graduate degree program or taken on its own. Currently, half of our students are enrolled in the certificate program only, which allows more flexibility with a work schedule, but also provides limited opportunities to meet other students. 

Does the certificate offer a cohort experience? 
Due to the nature of certificate, with quarterly enrollment and students developing their own program, there is no cohort model. But we will offer opportunities each year for all the certificate students to meet. In early 2017 we had a student/faculty mixer and discussion about the impact of the Trump administration on food systems, and at the end of the spring term, we had a cohort fieldtrip to Woodburn, OR. 

Can food systems certificate courses that I need for my graduate degree count for both?
Yes, if they have been completed within seven years of the time when all of the certificate requirements are satisfied and have not been applied to another graduate certificate. For most students finishing both a degree and the certificate is realistic within a typical two year program, but check with your school for more details.

How do I enroll in the certificate program if I am not already enrolled at PSU?  
Please see full application instructions for "Certificate-Only" students on our apply page. Find more information about applying to PSU at the Office of Graduate Studies admissions page

I’m currently a student in a PSU graduate degree program. How can I also enroll in the certificate?
Please see instructions for "Current Masters/Doctoral Students" on our apply page.

Can courses that I’ve taken in the past at PSU be counted toward the certificate requirements?
Yes, if they have been completed within seven years of the time when all of the certificate requirements are satisfied.

Can I apply transfer credits toward the Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Food Systems? 
No. Transfer credits are not accepted in the sustainable food systems certificate program. 

I am an employer in the food systems area. Can I send my employees to take certificate courses? 
Yes, as long as your employee has a completed undergraduate degree, they may apply for the sustainable food systems certificate program. 

What types of internship opportunities might be available to me to meet learning outcomes 3 or 5? 
Students may choose from currently available internships, work with an organization of interest to develop your own, or reach out to SFS faculty to see about cultivating an existing relationship they may have. See more about potential internship hosts here.

What types of books/films/social media or other resources to do you recommend?
There are so many! Here is just a short list to start - please ask faculty for more suggestions related to specific topics and disciplines.                           
Books - The New Food Activism (Alkon and Guthman), Big Hunger (Andy Fisher), Good Food, Strong Communities (ed. Ventura and Bailkey)Brewing Justice (Daniel Jaffee)Foodies' Guide to Capitalism (Holt-Gimenez)We Want Land to Live (Trauger), Land Justice (ed. Williams and Holt-Gimenez), 
Blogs - Civil Eats, Urban Food Cultures, Growing Food Connections
Podcasts - The Secret Ingredient, The Racist Sandwich

How much will the food systems certificate program cost? 
Depending on the course selection and the total number of credits, the exact cost for completing the food systems certificate will vary. The PSU Tuition & Fees Estimator is a good tool for creating an estimate. The PSU Office of Financial Aid also has an estimated cost of attendance that includes estimated costs of tuition plus books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and misc. personal expensesThe minimum course load to receive financial aid at PSU is 5 hours. The PSU scholarship application is due Feb. 1st the year prior to beginning coursework. You may also apply for external scholarships available based on your area of study and personal background. One source of external funding options is the Sustainable Food Systems Sourcebook

Are there online classes available for the food systems certificate program? 
Check each individual course, though note that most courses are in person.

Can I audit food systems certificate program classes? 
Class auditing may be available and should be arranged with the course instructor. Audited courses cannot be applied to the certificate.

Is there advising available for food systems certificate students?
Yes. You can schedule time with a faculty adviser in any of the participating PSU colleges and schools: College of Urban and Public Affairs, Graduate School of Education, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Business Administration. They are able to best advise you about certificate courses offered in their degree programs and how their fields relate to the food systems arena. For general advising, you may also contact the program director.

What if I can’t find enough classes to take in a given quarter?
You may contact the program director to discuss a possible substitution for the regular certificate courses. If approved, they will submit an exception request on your behalf. You may substitute a maximum of 2 out of the 6 classes, and they still must meet the learning outcomes. You are welcome to identify relevant classes that suit your specific goals and are not on our list, from any department on campus. In most cases these must be graduate level 500+ classes, though in rare cases a 300 or 400 level class may be acceptable with extra graduate level work and permission from the instructor. You may also elect to arrange for independent study (often a research paper or annotated bibiography), which must be arranged individually with the appropriate faculty.

What if I am accepted but need to defer?
If you are admitted but aren't able to enroll in a food systems certificate course for the term you are admitted, you can complete a Graduate Application Information Change Request to defer acceptance for up to three terms. Beyond three terms, reapplication is required.

When will I hear back about my application?
We aim to review applications within several weeks of their deadlines. You will receive email communication with the decision about your acceptance from the Graduate School.

Please note: The Office of Graduate Studies will not process your application until all relevant materials (including transcripts from any and all college-level classes you have  taken) have been received. If you have questions about the status, check with the Office of Graduate Studies.

What if I have missed all the current deadlines to apply for the "Certificate-only" program? 
As of now, when you apply and if are accepted, your start date is two quarters after your application cycle. If you want to start sooner, this can be arranged on a case-by-case basis by contacting the program direcor. You also can start taking classes before being officially admitted in the program, but you will not be eligible for Financial Aid until officially enrolled.

Once admitted, how do I find and enroll in courses?
Students who have been formally admitted or who have filed a Non-Degree Entry form may register for classes online at www.banweb.pdx.edu during the preregistration period for a given term. Registration dates are determined by student class level and admissions status and are listed under the term Priority Registration Schedule. A current, detailed listing of term course offerings can be found in the online Class Schedule[c]. Detailed instructions for registration, priority registration dates, drop and add deadlines and academic calendar can be found online at www.pdx.edu/registration. The class schedule is available approximately eight weeks before the beginning of classes for winter and spring, and available in May for the following fall term. You may also see a list of course offerings for the year using the course planning guide.

What if I want to start taking courses before I'm admitted?

Contact PSU's registrar to enroll, email the instructor to ask if you can join the class, then have the instructor fill out the relevant paperwork.                                                                    

 

Program contact:

The Program Director position rotates among the sponsoring departments every two years. For questions about individual classes, it is best to contact the course instructor directly when possible. Note that most faculty at PSU are on 9 month contracts and may not be available over email in the summer months. Please plan accordingly. 

Jennifer Allen
Program Director September 2018-September 2020
Associate Professor, Public Administration
Jhallen@pdx.edu | (503) 725 8546